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tv   CBS Evening News With Katie Couric  CBS  March 14, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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from palm springs. >> thank you. happy to call of the bay area home. >> there is the fog to welcome you! [ laughter ] >> couric: tonight, japan asks for u.s. help cooling nuclear reactors damaged by the earthquake as it tries desperately to prevent meltdown. i'm katie couric. also tonight, the unfolding humanitarian crisis. four days after the earthquake and tsunami, there are shortages of food and housing for the living. body bags and coffins for the growing number of dead. the search goes on for victims in towns virtually wiped off the map. and how safe are we with nuclear plants here at home built on fault lines and striking distances of tsunamis. captioning sponsored by cbs from cbs news world headquarters in new york, this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric. >> couric: good evening, everyone, any one of them alone
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would be overwhelming, but japan is dealing with three crises: humanitarian, economic, and nuclear, including the possibility of a meltdown. we'll have much more about that in a moment. it's tuesday morning in japan and four days after the earthquake and tsunami. the death toll continues to rise. officially 1,900, but one local police chief estimates 10,000 have died in his province alone. and as the search goes on for victims, at least a thousand washed up on shore today. coffins and body bags are in short supply and crematoriums are overwhelmed. u.s. and other foreign aid is pouring in for the millions of survivors in need of food, water and housing. emergency shelters are overflowing. japan's central bank pumped billions of dollars into the country's economy to shore it up. the prime minister is taking charge of managing the nuclear crisis and he's asking the u.s. for technical expertise to cool the damaged reactors and prevent a meltdown. u.s. officials say experts see
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no scenario in which harmful levels of radiation will reach the united states. we have a team of correspondents deployed throughout japan tonight. first, celia hatton in fukushima >> reporter: japan's nuclear nightmare continues, a second hydrogen explosion at the fukushima dai-ichi nuclear complex in just three days injured 11 workers. like saturday's initial explosion, today's blast destroyed the reactor's exterior though officials say its core is intact. this was followed by news another reactor in the complex is also overheating so the prospect of a third explosion is looming. and all three dai-ichi reactors have nuclear fuel rods that have been exposed to some degree, so they're teetering on the edge of a meltdown. japan's nuclear authorities are scrambling to contain the mounting problems posed by fukushima's damaged reactors. still, they insist they're in control.
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"this will not be the same situation at as chernobyl" explains the chief cabinet secretary yukio edano. authorities say radiation levels at the dai-ichi complex are under the legal limit but the u.s.s. "ronald reagan's" crew tells a sobering story. 17 were exposed to a month's worth of radiation during a one- hour search-and-rescue mission and had to undergo decontamination, though none were exposed to levels that would have made them sick. the entire carrier detected elevated radiation levels while stationed 100 miles away and since moved off to another area. before today's blast, those inside a 12-mile radius of the complex were told to stay indoors to avoid contamination, though few remained. instead, is it's a pass through point for many evacuees. this town located outside the evacuation zone has become home with a massive one-way traffic jam with all the vehicles headed
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north-- away from the faulty reactors. >> reporter: some are the option to escape, others have a duty to stay despite fears of a nuclear meltdown. japanese defenses for forces stationed in fukushima have been worked around the clock, delivering supplies to quake zone evacuees and monitoring damage inside the zone. their mission won't soon be accomplished. celia hatton, cbs news, fukushima, japan. >> couric: amid the tragedy, there are also stories of dramatic rescues and joyful reunions. dozens of people who were airlifted out of the disaster zone got off a japanese military helicopter today and walked into the arms of waiting loved ones. an elderly woman trapped in her crushed car since friday was finally freed. two young children were rescued from a boat. a baby girl miraculously survived three days in the rubble and was rescued today by
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a soldier. she's back in her father's loving arms. and an emotional reunion of a grandmother and her granddaughter separated by the disaster now together again. in the city closest to the earthquake's epicenter, sirens sounded today as aftershocks continued and there were more tsunami warnings. much of sendai was wiped out by friday's tsunami, including the airport, the seaports, and many homes. bill whitaker is there. >> reporter: as they survey their hellish new reality, sendai residents will tell you the earthquake, massive and horrible as it was, was survivable. the tsunami was the killer. a wave of terror swept in off the ocean with a power nothing could resist. houses and cars swept away like so much junk which today is what people are left with. that and memories. there's mud and debris as far as the eye can see. yutaka kumani's family is missing.
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>> reporter: today there's still no running water, no phone service in the city of one million people, half are still without power. there's no official count of the homeless, but here they line up for space at the school. food rations are only going to children and seniors over 75, says this woman. sonoko sato and her daughter are moving back with n with her mother. her house? >> nothing there. >> reporter: gone? >> yeah, it's gone. >> reporter: and what about the neighborhood, the other houses? >> it's gone. everything is gone. >> reporter: the tsunami came in over those trees, says this man. as we follow him into the worst- hit neighborhood, we meet the nieheis, newlyweds returning to their house for the first time. "it's like hell" says the woman. just then, the sirens. so we just got another tsunami warning and all the neighbors who are back looking at their houses said we need to get out
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of here, so we are. people dashed, the nieheis, too, those with cars drive to the highest point, the school turns shelter, they climb to the top, wait and watch. on the roof we find sonoko sato. "it's like a nightmare" she says "with all the aftershocks and warnings, i can't calm down." today good news. there was no tsunami. but no one here will ever forget the day there was. another reason they can't forget these relentless aftershocks. 60 in the last 24 hours, some of them major earthquakes in their own rights. magnitudes 6 and above. katie? >> couric: bill, there are obviously tens of thousands of homeless people in that area. what's being done to help them? >> couric: well, there are city- run shelters, but it's cold here and there's no electricity. water is being rationed, gas is being rationed, and people are starting to ask why in this rich country more isn't being done. katie? >> couric: bill whitaker
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reporting from sendai, japan tonight, bill, thank you. outside sendai along the coast, many smaller towns and villages exist now in name only. ben tracy shows us how natori, once a thriving farming town, has been turned into a wasteland. >> reporter: more than three days now after the earthquake hit and the tsunami roared through natori city, the homes are still smoldering and this is basically all that is left of this town that was once home to about 74,000 people, many of them farmers. now it's basically deserted. emergency vehicles are the only traffic on the roads and this man is one of the only people left in town. everyone else is gone because so are their homes. this used to be a neighborhood. now it's simply a debris field. these were houses. >> yes. >> reporter: now they're all gone. >> all gone. nothing. >> reporter: our driver used to take this street when he drove his family to the beach. he can't believe what's happened. >> the tsunami.
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>> reporter: then the tsunami came through. >> they cannot climb away to escape. >> reporter: that wave essentially erased natori off the map. hundreds of people are missing here, many feared dead. the military is searching the rubble for those who were swept away. just down the road here in natori, these soldiers got word a little while ago that a body was somewhere here in the wreckage, one of the missing people. as you can see, they've found that person and they're now going to take that person to the city's morgue. very sad. >> yes, very sad. >> reporter: ekuo says he believes the city can rebuild, even if it means starting from the ground up. you may be wondering where all the people in the town have gone. well, many have gone to evacuation centers or to live with their families. of course, there are then the missing and it will be days and months before we know how many of them have died. katie? >> couric: ben tracy, ben, thank you. now to the financial crisis. in the first trading day since the disaster struck, japanese stock prices plunged more than 6%, the biggest one-day drop in
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two years. on wall street, the dow lost 51 points or less than half a percent. lucy craft now with the financial impact of the disaster and what's being done to soften the blow. >> reporter: it took just moments to obliterate much of northeastern japan and it's taken only days for the financial repercussions of the catastrophe to start hitting home. investors, as expected, dump shares across the board, reflecting uncertainty about the impact of a disaster one expert says happens only once every thousand years. japan's central bank intervened on an unprecedented scale, pumping in nearly $184 billion to stabilize the financial markets. although tohoku, the area where the quake struck is rural and accounts for just a fraction of g.d.p., its manufacturing footprint looms large. toyota, knee nissan, honda, sony and other makers have been forced to suspend production in
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the wake of disaster. tokyo electric power's crippled nuclear power plant not only terrified local residents but triggered an energy shortage so severe that tokyo metropolitan areas are being forced to ration electricity. tokyo's trains are running slow or not at all. workers at many firms are being asked to stay home. long lines are forming at gas stations. tokyo's normally bustling streets are early quiet. japan will be counting on a massive rebuilding effort to help it bounce back just as it did after the last traumatic quake in kobe 16 years ago. lucy craft, cbs news, tokyo. >> couric: by the way, we mentioned on friday that lucy was having trouble contacting her 17-year-old son who was away at school in sendai. we're very happy to tell you that lucy got in contact with him over the weekend and he's fine. meanwhile, the head of the
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u.n.'s atomic energy agency said today the japanese nuclear emergency is not yet as severe as the three mile island accident in pennsylvania in 1979. to understand what went wrong at fukushima and what dangers still exist there, you need to know how a reactor works and what didn't work on friday. this is where nuclear power is made, inside this massive concrete containment zone is a reactor full of radioactive uranium, heating up in rods through a process called fission. >> it would be like if you had a tough guy go in a room with a bunch of other tough guys and they start hitting and beaching on each other and it spreads and you have a riot. >> couric: the thing that keeps the riot from leaving the rods is water, which circulate, heats up and produces steam to power a turbine, making energy. as soon as the earthquake tremors began, japanese energy
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officials shut down 11 reactors by interrupting the fission process. >> if you go to your stove and you want to turn your stove off, you turn the knob, you turn off the stove. the way you turn off a nuclear reactor is somebody turns a knob and they put control rods next to the uranium rods. >> couric: water must continue to flow around the rods to cool them down. at three reactors, though, power failures kept that from happening. >> your backup systems should have kicked in. they have all these generators. didn't happen. so apparently they failed and so they had to start putting sea water in. that's like the hail mary pass. you're just desperate now. >> couric: even with the two fukushima explosions so far, this is nothing like chernobyl where in 1986 the control rods malfunctioned and the fuel rods melted down. a subsequent explosion catapulted tons of radioactive material into the atmosphere.
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>> a hundred times as much radioactivity as hiroshima and nagasaki atomic bombs combined went up into the air at chernobyl. >> couric: 25 years later, a dead zone with a 16-mile radius still surrounds chernobyl and at least 11,000 children have developed thyroid cancer. unlike chernobyl, the explosions at fukushima have come from the containment dome not the radioactive core. >> the containment vessel only had a little bit of radioactivity in it, nothing next to what you would get... or you would have to get in order to get sick. >> couric: there are 104 nuclear reactors here in the united states. could this happen here? >> i would say based upon our preparedness and our expertise and equipment, personnel, no. it won't happen here. but when you take a look at the simple things going wrong over there in japan, like a
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generator, that's disturbing. >> couric: and consider this: in this country, some nuclear plants are built in earthquake zones along the west coast. how safe are there? we'll have that story next. he hl with heart-related chest pain or a heart attack known as acs, you may not want to face the fact that you're at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke. plavix helps protect people with acs against heart attack or stroke: people like you. it's one of the most researched prescription medicines. goes beyond what they do alone by helping to keep blood platelets from sticking and forming dangerous clots. plavix. protection against heart attack or stroke in people with acs. [ female announcer ] plavix is not for everyone. certain genetic factors and some medicines such as prilosec reduce the effect of plavix leaving you at greater risk for heart attack and stroke. your doctor may use genetic tests to determine treatment. don't stop taking plavix without talking to your doctor as your risk of heart attack or stroke may increase.
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coast near several fault lines. could they withstand a catastrophic earthquake? here's john blackstone? >> reporter: avila beach is a laid back resort town on the central california coast that for more than 25 years has lived next door to a giant. the diablo canyon nuclear power plants. it's been operating here in earthquake country since 1985 without any major problems. >> until they find better sources for our power, we're going to have to live with it. >> reporter: but the scenes of damaged nuclear facilities in japan are giving some here second thoughts. >> it's kind of like you want to get out of hire a little sooner. >> reporter: diablo canyon is within about 60 miles of the san andreas fault and much closer to at least three smaller faults, one of them, the shoreline, is less than a mile away and was discovered just three years ago. pacific gas & electric, which owns the plant, says it was built to withstand a 7.5 earthquake and none of the faults in the region is expected to produce anything bigger.
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but the japanese also assumed their nuclear plants would hold up says victor glyn galinsky, a former member of the nuclear regulatory commission. >> it tells you your assumptions about safety may be wrong and we need to go back and look at our systems and make sure our assumption are still valid. >> reporter: california isn't the only part of the country can have earthquakes, what geologists call seismic hot spots are scattered across the country. there are 104 commercial nuclear reactors in the u.s., including those operating in earthquake zones, and there are other natural hazards, too. in 1992, hurricane andrew knocked out power to the turkey point plant south of miami for five days but the plant survived. nuclear power supporters point out that even the accident at three mile island in 1979 did not result in the disaster first feared and the newest generation of nuclear power plants is built to an even higher standard.
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and although diablo canyon here sits right on the coast, geologists say a tsunami as big as the one that hit japan is unlikely here. katie? >> couric: john blackstone, john thank you. coming up next, libya. qaddafi's forces retake more territory from the rebels using bombs and piles of cash. bombs and piles of cash. i've had asthma for 11 years... ...but my symptoms kept coming back... ...kept coming back. then i found out advair helps prevent symptoms from happening in the first place. advair is for asthma that's not well controlled on a long-term asthma medicine, such as an inhaled corticosteroid. advair will not replace a rescue inhaler for sudden symptoms. advair contains salmeterol which increases the risk of death from asthma problems and may increase the risk of hospitalization in children and adolescents. advair is not for people whose asthma is well controlled with a long-term asthma control medicine like an inhaled corticosteroid. once your asthma is well controlled your doctor will decide if you can stop advair without loss of control and prescribe a different asthma control medicine,
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fierce battles were reported today in the oil town of brega and the libyan air force dropped bombs on ajdabiya. qaddafi offered amnesty to the rebels. libyan t.v. showed him greeting one who surrendered and he's ordered to handout cash in towns that have been recaptured. meanwhile, anti-government protests have been escalating in bahrain and today saudi arabia and other gulf nations sent troops over a causeway into bahrain to stop the violence. the saudis are nervous that the protestors, primarily shiites, could threaten the sunni regime and boost iran's influence in the region. coming up next, a japanese tourist town visited by tragedy. for more complete oral care. ♪ it works in six different ways to restore enamel, strengthen teeth, freshen breath, help prevent cavities, and kill bad breath germs for a whole mouth clean.
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the people we encountered heeded warnings and went to higher ground. they lost everything. "we're stunned" this man says. minami sanriku-cho existed and then it didn't. more than half of the residents are listed as missing or unaccounted for. they were here and now they are not. mr. kinichi saito stands on a hill looking at the debris field. somewhere below was his small trucking business and somewhere below was his wife who ran the office. your wife is missing? he was away when the wave hit. now he says everything is gone. we're a good 30 feet off the valley floor but because this valley is so narrow the water just kept going up and up and you want because it didn't have that much of a place to go that way. so as a result, even back here
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40 and 50 feet off the valley floor there's still destruction. a full two miles from the water's edge we found mr. saito cleaning up the mess that reached even here. his family is okay, he tells us, he didn't know there was a tsunami until he heard it coming. and here on the top of this debris pile, a family album. school pictures, a father and son, brothers together, schoolmates. and you wonder whoever this belonged to whether or not they're still alive. there are rescue crews here, but their only mission is to recover the remains of the dead. this doesn't look like a natural disaster, it looks like war. harry smith, cbs news, japan. >> couric: and that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight. i'm katie couric. thank you for watching. see you tomorrow. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs
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. you're watching cbs 5 eyewitness news in high definition. [ music ] >> the only thing i would be surprised is if we actually detected anything. >> with un settling reports of a possible meltdown in japan, a reality check at home. why experts say we have no cause for alarm. >> behind waves from half a world away. our best look yet at the damage in santa cruz harbor. and the after-shock for silicone valley. how damage in japan will affect the productivity and the prices right here. >> good evening, i'm dana king. >> and aim allen martin. just hours ago another explosion rocked a nuclear power plant in japan. that is the third in four days. the trouble at the complex began friday when the quake knocked out friday, crippling cooling systems needed to prevent nuclear fuel from


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